Soccer Lions ready to recapture winning form

Apr. 21, 2004

The Metro Lions are hoping they can restore the roar this season.
After a successful inaugural campaign in 2002, the Scarborough-based soccer team struggled considerably during its second season in the Canadian Professional Soccer League (CPSL).

The Lions, who play home games at Scarborough's Birchmount Stadium, posted a disappointing 5-10-3 record in 2003. The club did not qualify for the playoffs and placed fifth in the league's then six-team Eastern Conference.

But the Lions did manage to finish the season on a positive note. The club had some impressive results after Goran Miscevic took over the Lions coaching and general manager duties last August.

Though he wasn't able to guide the team to a playoff berth, Miscevic did lead the Lions to the championship final of the Canada Cup - the league's season-long tournament.

The Lions were edged 2-1 by London City in that match, which was decided on penalty kicks.

Miscevic is now preparing the Lions for the coming season.

"Like every professional club, we have some reconstructing to do," he said.

Miscevic believes about 10 players from last year's squad will also be on the team this season.

"We've got some new, young players who are just 18 or 19," Miscevic said. "But the new players will be even better than what we had last year."

Along with the roster changes, Miscevic said the Lions will be a new-look team for another reason.

"We're going to change our system of play," he said. "Our system is going to be more aggressive. And we're going to play a fast game."

Though they don't begin the regular season until late May, the Lions have already played a couple of exhibition matches.

The team was doubled 4-2 by the Toronto Lynx, who compete in the higher-calibre A-League, on April 8 during a game held in Vaughan.

The Lions entered that match without having any practices.

"We did very well," Miscevic said. "I was very happy."

The Lions were back in action this past Saturday. The team blanked the Mississauga Falcons under-18 side 5-0 in a game held at Toronto's Lamport Stadium.

The Lions will play another exhibition game this Friday at Lamport Stadium. West Indian United, a men's club that competes in the Ontario Soccer League, will provide the opposition in the 8 p.m. match.

The Lions' season opener is scheduled for May 27 on the road against the Hamilton Thunder.

The club's first game at home will be June 13 against Windsor's Border Stars.

The CPSL will consist of 11 teams this season.

Joining the Lions in the five-club Eastern Conference are the Oshawa-based Durham Storm, North York Astros, Toronto Supra and Vaughan Shooters.

Besides Hamilton and the Border Stars, the Western Conference features the Brampton Hitmen, London City, St. Catharines Wolves and Toronto Croatia.

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